Apparently I am a neo-Luddite.
I discovered this after reading an interesting article by Lowell Monke in Orion Magazine the other day. In the article, “Unplugged Schools” Monke suggests the need to ensure that we don’t substitute technology for personal interaction in the classroom. Since schools are one of the main institutions that influence a child’s social development it seems clear to me that they have a responsibility to provide a balanced curriculum which allows time for real experiences and social skill building.
Monke said “Compensation for an overheated technological culture should not be mistaken for rejection of it.” Even so, a couple of readers jumped on him for being a neo-Luddite, ignoring the bit about Monke being a technology teacher for the past 15 years.
The Luddite movement which began in the early 1800’s was a response to industrialization in the textile industry. I imagine them meeting secretly in dark barns, plotting the destruction of looms and knitting machines between swigs of strong ale. Luddism wasn’t fueled by fear but by pure economics. People were losing their livelihood to machines which couldn’t produce the quality of craftsmanship that the artisans could.
The label “Luddite” is now commonly used by people who neither understand the history behind the movement nor identify with those of us who do attempt a conscious approach to living. It’s just another derogatory label used by pseudointellectuals. (The irony here was intentional.)
“Life without industry is guilt, and industry without art is brutality.” John Ruskin